Trial matches mean something to the fans
On the outskirts of western Sydney sits the humble town of Appin. A rugby league mad town with a population of around 2000 people.
With thriving areas like Campbelltown and Camden nearby, Appin would be the perfect place for a National Rugby League trial.
Wests Tigers host the Parramatta Eels on Saturday night at Campbelltown Stadium in a fully fledged trial game.
Fantastic news for the people of Macarthur.
But the problem sits with the setting of the following week’s match between the Tigers and the Sydney Roosters.
These two teams will once again play in the heart of the city at Allianz Stadium.
It might be easier for the teams and their support staff to make the short drive to Moore Park, but do they not have a duty to showcase these games to as many people as possible?
People that don’t normally get to see NRL players up close and personal?
There used to be a carnival atmosphere whenever these matches were played in the bush. A chance for kids to meet their heroes because “the big show was in town”.
Appin was mentioned because it is a perfect example of the slow change taking hold of Sydney’s outskirts.
A few years ago, right across the road from the rugby league ground, AFL posts were erected on another field.
Nobody is saying AFL has taken a stranglehold on Appin. But the fact that there is an AFL field fifty yards away from the rugby league field is damning enough.
Being proactive has never been rugby league’s strongpoint.
Being the number one code in a town isn’t enough anymore either. Rugby league needs to show its claws and dominate the competition. Fans want to feel like they care and that they matter.
Only last weekend we saw the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks play at yep, you guessed it, Brookvale Oval.
Would it have been that difficult to take the match to Umina or Berowra?
The Penrith Panthers battle the Parramatta Eels in two weeks at Penrith’s Centrebet Stadium.
Where is the harm in taking the match to a place like Oberon or Bowral?
Even the Melbourne Storm’s first trail against Queensland Cup side Easts Tigers could have been taken to Bendigo or Sale. Instead it was played at the Storm’s training ground, Gosch’s Paddock.
This decision definitely raised this writer’s eyebrows.
The chance for country Victoria to get a taste of professional rugby league was missed. You can argue that country Victoria doesn’t give a stuff about the NRL or rugby league in general.
But you can bet your bottom dollar they still would have come out watch.
Sure teams have still taken games to places like Bathurst and Mount Isa. Games will be played at Coffs Harbour, Gosford and Cairns too.
But do we have to settle for a job almost done?
Should we not expect the world from the NRL?
If we do not expect everything, we will never get anything.